Just after we went through security we saw two people sitting in those airport carts they use to shuffle people, usually but not exclusively with disabilities, around. I glanced at them because the gate was nearly half a kilometre, I know because the guy at check in told me, away. One of the carts had a step up on to it that would be impossible for me to manage, the other looked Goldilocks so I asked if I could get a ride. She nicely indicated for me to get on.
I climbed on the back, the step being a little higher than I'm comfortable with but I got into place after only a little struggle. I asked the driver, before we took off, if she could drop me off where there weren't a lot of people as I don't like being stared at when I do simple things like transfer from cart to chair. She spoke English as a second language and didn't understand my request. I tried a second time. Still she was confused, "What are you asking me?" she asked.
The other driver was listening in on the conversation and drove his cart over and spoke to her in her own language. I saw understanding hit her face, "ohohohohohOhOhOhOhOHOHOHOHOHOHOHOH" then she nodded to me and said that she would be sure to be careful. We drove along leaving Joe way in the dust. He had my wheelchair so he just happily pushed it along. He seldomly pushes an empty wheelchair and he motored along with it.
When we got to the destination, the driver pulled over to the side and behind a column, "Here," she said in an accent fragrant with spice, "this is a place where there are no violent eyes." I was stunned at the turn of phase, at the accuracy of that phrase, when Joe came along. I got out of the cart and into the chair. We thanked her and made our way quickly to the gate area.
A few weeks ago I was doing a workshop with people with disabilities and a young woman came to ask me if being stared at was a kind of bullying. She'd been told that it wasn't and that she should be 'thankful for' the fact that they weren't calling her names. She was kind of mad at herself because she found the staring hurtful. She wanted to be away from the constant gawking. I told her that staring was just another form of social violence and that I understood what she meant.
I so wish I had had the term 'violent eyes' to give to her. I would love her to know that her feelings are a result of their behaviour NOT her disability and NOT her weakness.
It was nice being able to move, awkwardly and stiffly, from the cart to the chair in complete safety, without fear of the assault of violent eyes.